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Using Layer Masks in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 5 of 6

Adding Texture to Images

Ben Willmore

Using Layer Masks in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

5. Adding Texture to Images

Lesson Info

Adding Texture to Images

But then we can get fancier if we want. I'm going to take this image, and I want to create kind of a creative image out of it. So I am going to use this in my mask. If I use this in my mask, I can make it so the image only shows up where that painting is. To do so I'm gonna select all and I'm gonna copy. Then I'll close this document, and we'll be working here. I'm gonna add a layer mask to this document. To the layer I should say. Then I'm gonna choose paste. Hoping that what I copied last will be pasted right into the mask. But when I choose paste it didn't go into the mask. If you look at my layers panel, it became it's own layer. So I'm gonna choose undo by typing command Z, which is the shortcut for edit undo. I want that to go into the mask. You can get it to go into the mask. You just need to know how. The way you do it is you somehow need the mask to be visible. On your main image. There's two ways to make it visible. The first way is what we used on the last image, which is to...

show it as an overlay. So if you hit the backslash key then you'd be able to paste it in. The second way is to view it directly. Where it's not an overlay. Instead you just blatantly look at it. The way you do that is you hold down the option key, alt, and windows. Click anywhere within the mask in your layers panel. That's gonna make it visible on the main screen. Then only when it's visible either as an overlay or direct like this can I choose paste. I'll type command T. Command T is the same as going to the edit menu and choosing free transform. Scale this down. Reposition it wherever I like. The only problem is black hides things. So this would create a hole in the middle of the image. Actually want the opposite of that. So I can chose image, adjustments, invert. Invert ends up giving you a negative of what you currently have. So wherever you have black it's gonna become white. Wherever it's white will become black. So now that blackness should hide our image. The only problem is the interior here this is not completely white. You can see some gray and some texture in there. So if I stop viewing this mask. You do that by option clicking on the mask to get it so it's hidden again. You can see through that middle portion a bit. So just adjust it. Using any adjustment you can use to force things to black and white. In levels the upper left slider forces areas to black. I could use that to get the surroundings to work. In the upper right slider forces areas to white. Here we go. Or we can get fancier than this. Let me grab another version. In this case I'm gonna use this picture, and I'm gonna use this textured paper. I'll select all and copy this. Just like we did on the other one. Then close it. Here I am gonna add a layer mask just like we did before. To paste it into the layer mask the mask must be visible. This time I'll use the backslash cause I mentioned that would be another method. Since the mask is completely white hitting the backslash key doesn't visibly change the image. But it'll still allow me to paste. That's when I'll see it as an overlay. Then I can hit the backslash again to make it so it no longer has an overlay. So it was able to paste it in. It looks a little odd cause it's small but I'll scale it up. I can go to the edit menu and choose free transform. That's how we scale things. Let's get this be large. I'm gonna get rid of my selection cause I just don't need it anymore. Up here I can still see the picture. That's just because the image that we pasted in doesn't extend up that far. I'm gonna grab my paintbrush tool. I'm gonna end up painting across the top and bottom of the image. To just say hey, I'm painting with black which means hide those areas. Now the middle of this was not completely white. The area out here is not completely black. Let's just go look at the mask to see that. I'll option click on the mask so we can see it's contents. There it is. I want to use this in a special way so I wanna copy it. Because we scaled it and so the part we copied earlier was smaller. Select all, copy. Then lets adjust it. I'm gonna do image, adjustments, level should work fine. Remember in levels the upper left forces areas to black. So I'll just do that until the surroundings are black. Then the upper right forces areas to white. I'm gonna bring it up not all the way but enough where it should mainly show up. Just a few areas we might see through. Let's stop looking at this. Option clicking the mask is how we got to this view. I'm just gonna option click it again. That's alt, clicking and windows. So there's what we have. Let's put a layer underneath it that's full of white. One way of doing that is to go to the adjustment layer icon and choose solid color. That'll ask you what color you wanna use. Then you can put that underneath. Alright but now I want some of the texture of that paper. Remember I copied the contents of the mask before we adjusted it. I'm just gonna paste it in here. I needed to copy it after I had scaled it up and everything so it'd line up with its current position. Then I'm gonna use something called a blending mode. We have an entire lesson about blending modes if you end up watching all the lessons related to this class. I'm just gonna slowly go over these and see if I can find one that might put some of that texture into this image. I think actually one of the ones up here. That one. Now that's given this a little bit of texture that it wouldn't otherwise have. I want to make it so it doesn't fill in the area out here on the edge. Well when we talked about layers in a different lesson, there was a way to clip one layer to another. So this layer would only show up where there's a layer below. You do that by going to the layer menu and choose create clipping mask. Now that texture is only showing up where the layer is below. So hopefully you're getting a sense for layer mask. There's so much more we can do with them. If I want to take a screen like this and put a different picture in it. All it is is put a picture on top. Add a layer mask that's the shape of the screen. Then you can have as many pictures as you want to swap out there. Let's see what else we can do. I'll just show up an example. This is one you don't actually get if you purchase the class. Most of the time you get the images I work on. This one's just too big. Because these are a weird way to set up layers. But let me show you what I have here. Here I have two exposures. We're in Venice. This is my initial exposure which is bright enough for the lower portion of this image. But then I don't like the sky. So I have a second exposure that is darker, and has that nice blue sky. I just want to mask the two together. Well I can use a layer mask. When you use a layer mask you don't always need to get an exact mask all the way around the edge of some area. Instead often times I paint with soft edge brushes at low opacities and I build things up. That's somewhat of what I did here. If I turn this mask on you'll see my end result. If I hide the top layer, there it is without that image blended in. Here it is with. If you want to see the mask I'll option click on it so you can see it. That was just using a soft edge brush. My opacity might of been at 50%. When I painted it allowed 50% of the look of that image to show up. Then I can go back and paint again to build up its appearance even more. So there's obviously some sort of shape right there that I was tracing. If you watch that shape and I turn this off. That was like this building I was trying to get it into. So I do use it to blend exposures together as well.

Class Description


  • Understand the relationship between Selections and Masks
  • Use brushes and gradients to create complex masks
  • Understand how filters and selections affect masks
  • Use masks to combine multiple exposures to remove unwanted objects
  • Temporarily disable, overlay or view any Layer Mask


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)

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Jean McMillan

Just loving this with 'bite size' chunks, I have picked up so much and it's great being able to jump in and do a short blast to re-fresh the memory. Wish all classes were short, sweet and to the point like these